COVID-19 vaccinations at CMU: Everything we know so far


Mount Pleasant and Central Michigan University will soon benefit from COVID-19 vaccinations.

In an email to campus on Jan. 8, CMU President Bob Davies outlined the university's efforts to make vaccinations accessible to anyone who wants them. He said CMU will administer vaccines while remaining within guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDDHS).

"During Phase 1, CMU may, from time to time, have the opportunity to receive a small number of vaccines from our local health care partners," Davies said in his email. "We may not receive much advance notification of vaccine availability, and we must be able to accept and administer them on a very tight timeline."

In addition, Davies said early vaccine distribution will be available to the "individuals identified as essential for health, safety and continuity of operations." 

The FDA granted emergency use authorization to a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Dec. 11. A week later, a second vaccine developed by Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna was approved. Since then, the vaccines have shipped to medical facilities across the country.

The CDC issued recommendations for the prioritization and distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has also adopted these recommendations.

This means vaccines will be distributed in the following phases:

Phase 1A 

  • Healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities with direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials

Phase 1B 

  • Essential workers such as firefighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers and teachers
  • People 75 years old or older 

Phase 1C 

  • People between 65 and 74 years old 
  • People between 16 and 64 years old with underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19.
  • Other essential workers, such as people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety and public health.

Phase 2 

  • People 16 years old and older.

Who's been vaccinated already?

Many of CMU’s frontline medical workers, including teams at CMU Health and third- and fourth-year medical students, have received their first dose of the vaccine, according to Davies's email.

As part of the early Phase 1B distribution, the CMU Police Department staff also received the first dose of the vaccine last week. CMUPD Lt. Michael Sienkiewicz said everyone at the department was offered a vaccine but some choose not to get the shot. He estimates 85 percent of the staff received the first dose.

Sienkiewicz said the department has been cautious about exposure to COVID-19 by encouraging regular surveillance testing, mask and social distancing guidelines. 

Now with the vaccine available, Sienkiewicz said, the lowered risk of an outbreak has given the department "peace of mind." 

"We have greater confidence that we'll be able to carry out our services to campus (without risk of exposure to our staff and families)," he said.

The CMUPD expects to receive the second dose within the next four weeks.

Central Michigan District Health Department Officer Steve Hall said CMU professors older than 65 years of age can register to get a vaccine. However, Hall said he predicts most other professors and university personnel will have to wait until May.

"Right now K-12 are considered (phase) 1b and can be vaccinated. (The CDC) does not consider higher education professors in that same category," he said.

CMU students enrolled in student-teaching or daycare programs will be considered K-12 educators and will receive their vaccine in the coming weeks.

CMU could become a vaccine administration site

Davies said CMU applied to be a designated vaccine administration site and expects news about the application within the next month. 

University Communications Director Heather Smith confirmed CMU sent its application to the MDHHS in early December. She gave more information about a future vaccine clinic and monitoring distribution in the following email statement:

Latest updates on vaccines can be found on the "Fired Up for Spring" page on CMU's website.

According to the "Fired Up for Fall" page, there were 6 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases among the CMU community as of Jan. 12. There have been a total of 87 total cases since Nov. 25. This number is expected to spike when students return for face-to-face classes this weekend.